Saturday, March 7, 2009

Issue By Issue: Bill Willingham's Fables

#25 - Our Right To Assemble Issue

Writer: Bill Willingham; Pencils: Mark Buckingham; Inker: Steve Leiahola and Mark Buckingham; Colour: Daniel Vozzo; Letterer: Todd Klein; Cover: James Jean.

pp 01-04 Assembling The Troops

After centuries in hiding, the Fables begin preparations by taking some big risks. First a major convoy of trucks carrying the Farm Fables and the many munitions created for their use. Red is leading the convoy and riding with her are ‘Stinky’ the Badger and Clara the Raven, formerly a fire breathing dragon. Hanging from her rear-view is a little doll named Irma, named, presumably after Mrs. Buckingham, Irma Page. Weyland is driving another truck, with the Sunflower Kid and a toad. The toad looks like Jeremy Fisher to me, but from his behaviour later in the story, I suspect he is Mr. Toad of Wind In The Willow fame. In the back of another truck are the Three Little Bears. They joined the wrong side in the uprising and are now eager to prove their loyalty to the regime.

Back in Manhattan the Boys in Blue are curious to know why the residents of Bullfinch Street are assembling a concrete barrier if all they are doing is holding a block party. Fortunately Prince Charming’s skills aren’t limited to winning the hearts of the ladies and the police accept his reasoning, however implausible. He then gives Fly a lecture on the finer points of building a defensive perimeter. Watching him at work one can’t help but wonder if he’d make a greater war time leader than Cole.

pp 05-07 Some Assembly Required

Back at the warehouse the wooden soldiers are being assembled. Literally. They arrived in pieces, in crates, and are going through a six point assembly process that leaves each looking like the three we’ve seen so far. There aren’t enough guns for all, so those without are advised to stand close to someone armed and wait till they fall. Lou exchanges a few words with the head of a soldier named Rudolph. Getting a close look at one of without his glasses, it’s remarkable how much they look like Pinocchio.

pp 08-14 Final Preparations

Across Fabletown people are readying themselves.

Blue refuses to sit things out in his hospital bed. He is going to battle. And he has a personal grudge against one member of the opposition.

Snow is up on the thirteenth floor, having convened a meeting of the community’s witches and warlocks. Their job is to keep the mundies from knowing that a major battle is raging in their midst. Frau Totenkinder points out that it will be very costly for the community, but Snow rebuffs her. The charter makes it very clear that in a crisis everyone is expected to do their all. They’ve been conscripted. Period. The makeshift coven takes a moment to digest this before Totenkinder replies, ‘Fine. We’re eager to help.’ I can’t help but wonder, given all the power these nine have, we’ve only shown nine, couldn’t they be called on to do much, much more?

Red’s convoy arrives while Snow is handing out radios. Radio Shack only had twelve. You think they’d have learned from the Farm uprising. Snow is shocked to discover Swineheart in the lobby taping a sword into Blue’s hands. It’s the only way he will be able to hold it. The doctor tells her that, as a battlefield surgeon, his priorities are different from civilian practice. His job is to get them back on their feet and into battle as soon as possible.

Lastly, the Beast is having trouble getting into battle mode. In order to do it he needs his wife angry with him, but with the help of Charming he manages just fine.

pp 15-16 St. Crispin’s It Aint

The high watermark for pre-battle speeches comes from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Because the battle took place on St. Crispin’s Day, and because that fact is noted in the speech, it’s called the St. Crispin’s Speech. Snow and Hugh both rally their respective sides and neither holds a candle to Ol’ Hal, I’m afraid. In fact, both sides play the gormless optimism card pretty hard. Snow tells them that they are only fighting for one another and that, once the enemy sees their resolve they’ll probably turn tail and run. Did that ever work in the Homelands? Hugh speech follows the same line. Once they see us they’ll surrender, so don’t kill too many. Well, maybe a few. Maybe more than a few. Above his head floats the fake Riding Hood lying on a bed. A nod to Bedknobs and Broomsticks, perhaps? Or maybe the Mary Norton books that inspired it.

pp 17-18 Plan: P

Jack has been given the job of looking after Pinocchio. Pinocchio thinks this is a waste of time. He doesn’t need protecting, the trio was quite clear about wanting to take him back, so they are unlikely to harm him, and besides, he intends to go back with them anyway. He wants to be reunited with his father. Besides, he adds, seeing Jack check his gun, what good is a revolver against wood? Jack tells him the gun isn’t for the enemy. It’s for Pinocchio. They have no intention of letting him run back to the Adversary with all he knows about their community.

pp 19-22 To Arms!

Grimble and Hobbes meet in the lobby of the Woodlands. Both look forward to going outside without their glamours. They make the traditional pre-battle wager, the one who collects the most heads wins. The loser buys dinner.

Mundies can see the wooden soldiers marching in to battle. ‘It’s the Young Republicans!’ ‘They’re marching in -- Taking over New York!’ ‘Just like they marched on Paris in ‘39.’ A good joke, though it was actually 1940.

Fable birds spot the advancing horde and give warning. They’re coming. Hundreds of them. Maybe thousands.

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